"With the end of prophecy also came the end of demons in the world. This is not to say that Satan and his minions are not still trying to influence the world toward evil. But it means that no demon can possess a person against his will. A person might willing follow after the influence of a demon, but that is about as far as it goes. "
Which is it, are they in this world and trying to influence us or are they no longer in this world? If they are not in this world but still influence us then explain how this is possible.
"Hence, no men are possessed with demons in our time"
Given this claim, would you please address these testimonials from people who have been possessed or know others who were possessed.
I reworded the statement to be a bit clearer. I believe that Zechariah 13 is stating that demon possession would end approximately the same time that prophecy came to an end.
I had a note just yesterday from a person claiming that God is making him worship on the Sabbath. The claim doesn't make it so. I have had hundreds of people claim to be prophets, but God's word says prophecy has ended. So whom am I going to believe? Obviously, God's word is the truth.
The New Testament talks about the doctrine of demons and their influence, so I accept that they are manipulating things behind the scenes in an attempt to get people to sin. But God also said that demons would be driven from the land, which I take means that their ability directly operating in this world by taking over a person has been removed.
How do they do it? Probably the same way God's providence works through angels.
Help me out here. I'm trying to decide what God's word teaches on the matter. But I'm not going to let you off that easy. Both sides make arguments from Scripture that seem convincing. So who is right? I'm not trying to put personal revelation above the Scripture. But the other side has Scriptures to back their point of view too, and more of them to boot. And when there is a multitude of witnesses to the fact that demons do walk among us and do possess the willing, well it makes your case seem weak. So does the fact you didn't even watch and address what they had to say.
I sent you two first-hand accounts and one second-hand witness to multiple cases. These aren't just wild stories and claims, but the types of testimonies that could be verified in a court of law as true or false. There are also things that they say which match up against current demonic events that lend strong credence to what they say.
You don't have a scripture that says flat out there will be no more demon possession. Rather you have a second-generation derivation from two unclear passages. This is not to say you are wrong. But given the strength of their accounts and the weakness of your arguments I can not be so quick to dismiss these.
You say demons aren't with us, but they influence us. How, you don't say, you only hint. But let's assume it is the same way as God's providence through angels, as you say. Well, those angels are among us. So however it is that angels influence things, demons do too, but it requires them to be here on earth among us.
As far as I can tell your reasoning stems this way:
- spiritual gifts have ceased
- demonic possession implies a need for exorcism, a spiritual gift
- there must not be demonic possession
And since you can't or won't consider #1, you won't consider #3. Now maybe this isn't your thinking, but I've seen others who believe as you reason the same way. Interestingly enough, the interviewers of the two women also don't believe in present spiritual gifts. Yet they believe the testimonies. And they actively strive against witchcraft in Britain. You see Britain is seeing a resurgence in witchcraft. Do you really think all those people would leave Christianity and atheism for witchcraft if it is all trickery? There has to be some power there. Didn't Paul prophecy such things for the end times? Isn't the powers of the beast in Rev quite miraculous? Doesn't Revelation 19 speak of Satan and his demons being re-released for a time on the earth? Even if you are right Revelation 19 would indicate a future time, perhaps now, where demons once again walk among us.
What is even more interesting about the interview with the former witch is she was a palm reader, and she testifies that it was effective (not a hoax) but was accomplished through demon possession. Now contrast that with people such as yourself who argue such things can't be and that they are all trickery. Not only do you look foolish, but what happens if one of the people you taught ends up going to one of these and experiences first hand, that it isn't trickery. Their faith will be destroyed. They will likely think there is more real power in the demonic than in Christianity. Especially since many people not only deny spiritual gifts but any kind of miraculous working, even in answer to prayer. It is as if to some people God isn't alive beyond the printed page.
Of course, there are false prophets, always have been and always will be, till the end comes. But that doesn't mean there weren't (or aren't) real ones. That doesn't mean these people are lying.
Please give me some better scripture. This doesn't have to be about spiritual gifts per se, but it can be; for these aren't the only testimonies. For example, there is a Baptist church planter in Texas who was witness to a resurrection, who knows a woman with the gift of seeing demons and angels, and whose life has been miraculously spared on at least one occasion. A Baptist! They are just as cessationist as those in the church of Christ, if not more so. And then there is the Christian (in the Church of Christ sense of the word) and former Baptist I met last month who has not only cast out demons but has seen gifting of tongues with interpretation. This isn't some charismatic antinomian guy, he's as conservative as you are; right down to the head covering issue.
I look forward to your reply and will myself reply again with questions when I have had a chance to examine your scripture in depth
For your study:
- Demons and Demon Possession
- Demons: Ancient Superstition or Historical Reality?
- The Theology of Demons
- Were the Pharisees Able to Exorcise Demons?
- The Bible Teaching About Demons
- Are demons still present today?
Verification of demon possession is not possible in a court of law, any more than verification that your spirit exists in your body can be verified. There is no measurement in the physical world available to measure, let alone distinguish spirits.
I did listen to portions of two of the four links you sent and found them empty of scriptural content. Nice interview on one, but the person speaks of how she is "born again" while living in fornication, though she admits she needs to work on the problem. The other used a lot of passages but blurs the distinction of temptation and possession, thus not making a real point. He also read passages about when demon possession had occurred, but he just assumes that it continues, he did not prove it.
Yes, angels are among us, but the question was whether demons possess people. My point is that the Bible doesn't make a claim that angels possess people today, yet they accomplish the will of God. You asked how a demon could influence a person and my point is that if angels can influence behavior without possession, then it takes no mental leap to realize that other spiritual beings, like demons, could do the same without having to say they must possess an individual.
Revelation 20:3, 7-8 says about Satan, "But after these things he must be released for a little while. ... Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea." From this short statement, you added that the demons would also be released -- such is not stated. You also added that the release means the demons would start possessing people again -- such is not stated. If you are going to state there is evidence to the contrary, you will need to show where the Bible states the conclusion drawn is wrong or show a reasoned argument that indicates a different position is not only possible but likely.
I can easily state that the claims are trickery because that is what the Bible states is Satan's method of operation. The passage in Revelation 20 does state how Satan will operate when he is released -- through deception.
"You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44).
"But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Corinthians 11:3).
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works" (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).
"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:9-12).
"So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:9).
"And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived" (Revelation 13:12-14).
"Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20).
The purpose of the church, especially the duties of elders, preachers, and teachers, is to teach people so that they are not as vulnerable to such deceit. They are there "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting" (Ephesians 4:12-14).
That there are false teachers in the church, whom you have met, doesn't surprise me one bit. It was foretold that it would happen throughout the ages. Since the Scriptures are truth (John 17:17), anyone claiming the opposite is necessarily false. God said miraculous gifts would cease when the Bible (the perfect) was completely revealed (I Corinthians 13:8-13), these people are stating the opposite. Guess what that makes them? "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9).
But I could verify in a court of law that her claim that palm reading was effectual, the only explanation for which is demonic. I could verify in a court of law the testimonies of multiple witnesses to exorcisms, resurrections, and such.
You make an assumptive jump from removal from a place to not possessing people. Your assumption that this means only the direct operation of possession is erroneous. Driven from the land would be complete removal, not simply handicapping of their powers.
You cannot use a prophecy that says demons will be driven from the land to show they won't possess, and then turn around and say they are still present in the land influencing us in other ways. Either they are here or they are not. But since you admit they are still here, and the New Testament says they are still here, then Zechariah 13 cannot apply to today. Either you are misinterpreting it, or it has not been fulfilled yet. Either way without Zechariah 13 you have no basis for saying they cannot possess us today (even if we assume prophecy has ceased).
But if we grant you that the cessation of prophecy and driving demons from the land go together then the fact that demons are still present (by your own admission, the New Testament, and many witnesses) would indicate the present work of prophecy. Now there are many other problems with your use of Zechariah 13:
- You assume 'the unclean spirit' (singular) means demons (plural).
- You assume that 'the land' in verse two means the whole world always, whereas verse 1 defines it as ancient Judea (or the place where the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem lived).
- You assume prophets and prophecies means those from God, whereas the context connects them with the idols and unclean spirit; implying prophets and prophecies, not from God.
- The deportation of prophets, idols and the unclean spirit from the land is connected with the time the fountain is opened. I can only connect this to the fountain of living water (Jeremiah 17:13; John 4:14; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 21:6). I'm not quite sure how to completely interpret the meaning of fountain, but it does seem indicative of the time of Christ's appearing the Good news being preached. And since at this time there was prophecy still of God, this further indicates the prophets that would be removed at that time were the ones not of God.
- You connect Zechariah 13 with the ending of prophecy, which in turn connects it (by your contention) with the completion of the canon of Scripture; which would have been close to 98 A.D. (Revelation) or even later (3xx) when the canon was 'officially' settled (a whole other complex issue we need not diverge into). But Zechariah 13 starts out saying 'In that day..." which is the hint that we shouldn't take this out of context but look at the preceding chapters to see what day it is talking about. Zechariah 14 which follows would also play into this. I am not sure how to interpret chapters 12 and 14 as to the time of occurrence. But for your contention to stand you'd have to show they apply to that time when you claim prophecy ceased and I would appreciate hearing how you interpret those chapters.
- You assume prophecy has ceased; whereas it is entirely possible that prophecy and other gifts are simply absent among your people.
Per Revelation 19, I had not looked it up and you are right that it does not say demons are released. It is simply not stated, but it is not unreasonable that they might be. "You also added that the release means the demons would start possessing people again" I do not see where I said that. My point was, demons would walk among us again, while I thought you were claiming demon's no longer walked among us. But there are other verses which show this (see discussion above).
"God said miraculous gifts would cease when the Bible (the perfect) was completely revealed (I Corinthians 13:8-13)." But did He say that? You assume that 'the perfect' is the canon of scripture we call the Bible. This is the assumption upon which you build everything; upon this one verse, you justify disregarding the multitude of witnesses. How do you know this? You spill a lot of ink which assumes this as a foundation, but nowhere have I seen you show why 'the perfect' means that. It is not clear this is true, and the interpretation that this refers to life eternal in many ways fits the context better. What in scripture and this passage shows 'the perfect' / 'that which is complete' / 'that which is perfect' means the Bible?
How do you define miracle and how do you balance that against the Lord answering our prayers?
One of the interesting books I have on my shelf is called Powers by Dan Korem. He believes in modern-day miracles and has been searching for evidence of their existence. When I heard him on the radio, he was ten years into his search and had not found verifiable evidence, such as you find in the New Testament. You see, he is a magician by trade and as he searches he feels it is his God-given duty to debunk the frauds because they distract from the real. He probably wrote the best definition of faith that I've seen, but he also made the observation that the most gullible audience is composed of people who believe they can't be fooled because when they are faced with information they can't explain, they jump to the conclusion that it must be supernatural.
After explaining a case where a stockbroker got caught up into a weird scam, he tells us:
"How, you may ask, could a levelheaded person with a healthy degree of skepticism get caught up in something this bizarre? The answer is that the broker didn't have an explanation for the concise revelation of information.
"Skepticism isn't needed so much to combat these claims as discernment. Skepticism is simply a doubting state of mind. A person looks with narrowed eyes and says, "Prove it to me. I'm hard to fool." A discerning person works from a framework that says, "Give me the facts, let me weigh them and then I'll make a decision."
"If a shrewd and clever psychic can remove even a portion of a skeptical person's doubts through ruseful maneuvering, then there is a good chance of converting the skeptic. This was the case of with the broker. The broker was skeptical and didn't believe someone could actually read thoughts and recall past events. When "proof" was offered, the broker bit because, "I'm naturally skeptical and hard to fool."
"My good friend Dr. Ray Hyman, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and a respected expert on psychological deception, calls this the "illusion of invulnerability" -- the "not me" syndrome. The other guy can be fooled but not me. However, studies show that people who don't think they can be deceived are often the easiest to deceive because they are relying on their "skeptical nature" to protect them.
In other words, personal pride in being hard to fool actually leaves one more vulnerable to deception than the humble attitude that I can be fooled so let me check. It is an application of "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).
I have been very careful to state that there is no indication that people today can be possessed by a demon today. That is, for a demon to take control of a person or use a person's body. The Bible indicates that it once happened in a narrow frame of time when the Son of God came to earth and in a narrow area of the world. The Old Testament hints that demons were behind some idolatry (Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; II Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37). There are hints that some spiritual beings were manipulating countries behind the scenes. Some were good and others bad, giving rise to the speculation that at least some of our physical wars are reflections of spiritual wars going on behind the scenes (Daniel 10:12-13). The New Testament also indicates that demons are luring people into false beliefs. "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (I Timothy 4:1). But I have made no assumption that demon possession was universal in the world. That would have to be shown by Scripture and I know of no verse that indicates such an idea.
An interesting point throughout the Bible is that neither Satan nor demons are ever stated to be able to do miracles. What they do is qualified with descriptors of false, lying, and deception. Satan and his minions are capable deceivers, able to fool millions of people, but they can't do a miracle and they can't go beyond the bounds God places on them.
But the discussion has been about possession by demons. You don't want to consider that Zechariah 13 and I Corinthians 13 both say that prophecies and other miraculous gifts would end. That is your choice. It doesn't change the fact that the passages still exist, but I can't force you to a belief that you refuse to accept, no matter how reasonable God's word is. It is part of the reason why I spend a good bit of time locating articles by other authors who each approached your question from a different point of view and different directions of reasoning. But it seems those were lightly dismissed as well.
I'm not interested in repeating what has been written. I noticed that almost all your arguments are based on a claim of not understanding; therefore concluding that since you don't understand, arguments based on these passages are not legitimate. I don't play that game.
I also noted that you correctly realize that in the subjects of modern-day demon possession, prophecies, miraculous gifts, continuing revelation and the like that a stand in one area naturally leads to stands in the other areas. The subjects are interwoven and consistency, even in a false belief, causes a chain reaction. So while you have divided people into two groups, I did not miss that you have already chosen which group you see yourself belonging to. Thus, I realize that while you present your arguments as questions and talk about needing to study it more, it is clear that you have made up your mind and what I present isn't going to make much difference.
For a discussion of the timeline of these events, see
For the meaning of "that day," see:
The fact that prophecy has ceased is not an assumption. It is based on what God has said. Concerning the end of prophecy, see:
- Who are the false prophets among us today?
- What is your proof that prophecy has ended?
- Could you help me explain to my girlfriend that speaking in tongues has ended?
- Does God Speak Directly to Mankind Today?
- Latter Day Revelations
- Once for All
I believe the only point not covered is the use of "the unclean spirit" in Zechariah 13 where a person would normally expect a plural. We know from the New Testament that more than one demon was involved in demon possession. The example of Legion in Mark 5:9 is sufficient to make the point. Even claiming that Zechariah 13 is talking about another time frame won't allow you to conclude that only one demon is involved. Therefore, when we read something unexpected that makes us ponder, then we examine the passage for figurative language.
Such is already present when we see that salvation is represented by a fountain (Zechariah 13:1). We also see it discussing the house of David (the kings and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but we realize from the context that these are just representatives of all of Israel, both the ruling class and the citizens (a subset representing the whole). The use of "the unclean spirit" is of a similar nature. Its formal name is called a metonymy, which literally means "a change of name."
An example of this is Jesus while establishing the Lord's Supper speaks of "the cup" "Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20). Yet Jesus was talking about the contents of the cup and not the cup itself because Jesus talked about drinking it, but you can't drink a cup. "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."" (I Corinthians 11:25). But there is also a metonymy of number as well because earlier in Luke 22:17 Jesus instructs the disciples to divide the cup among themselves. The reason for this type of metonymy is to emphasize the unity of what is being done. It might be individual cups, but the contents all came from the same source. Each is drinking his own cup, but they are doing it together. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" (I Corinthians 10:16).
By using a singular for the unclean spirit when many are actually being talked about, it also is a way to emphasize that these are independent creatures but beings who are acting in concert.